Apple working on under-display optical Touch ID sensor with angled light

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
Apple is working on new fingerprint sensing technology that could work through an iPhone display by taking advantage of off-axis angular light.

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


The company has been working on various types of display-embedded fingerprint technology, include capacitive systems and ultra-sonic sensors. Current reports suggest Apple is planning on re-introducing Touch ID on a future iPhone.

In a new patent application, Apple hones in on optical fingerprint sensing that uses light -- rather than ultrasonic vibrations -- to read and analyze a fingerprint. The new patent application details a new method using reflected light specifically.

As the patent points out, the technology deals with some of the issues with light-based fingerprint sensors. Namely, it mitigates problems with light reaching enough of the fingerprint for a clear reading, as well as problems with light diffraction.

Apple explains that, by capturing off-axis angular light, the method could "improve the contrast of fingerprint impressions and maintain the compactness of the entire sensing system."

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


"For certain objects, oblique light forms stronger imaging signals than light that is normal to the imaging plane. For example, a fingerprint-sensing system/device with multidirectional illumination, such as an under-display fingerprint-sensing device may utilize oblique angular filters to capture the stronger signals to enhance image contrast," the patent reads.

In one implementation of the patent, Apple could embed a light-emitting layer covered by a transparent layer to illuminate a surface. Underlying layers in this configuration could include a grating layer, a collimator layer, and a pixelated image sensor.

The grating layer would bend the reflected light to create oblique light. From there, various apertures and the collimator layer could process the received light spatially. Then, an image sensor could further analyze that processed light. Another method includes Fresnel prisms or blazed gratings to rebind the oblique light rays into straight light rays.

All of these methods would create a fingerprint reading system that could work reliably through a display, but not take up too much internal space within an iPhone or another device.

The patent lists Ting Sun, Mohammad Yeke Yazdandoost, Bosheng Zhang, Marduke Yousefpor, and Kathrin Berkner Cieslicki as its inventors.

Apple files numerous patent applications on a weekly basis, so patents are a poor indicator of when or if a particular feature or technology will actually make it to market.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 1,146member
    You know what would be even better?  A home button.

    The UI on iPhones without them is clunky at best.
    baconstang
  • Reply 2 of 8
    M68000M68000 Posts: 773member
    darkvader said:
    You know what would be even better?  A home button.

    The UI on iPhones without them is clunky at best.
    I agree the home button is so fast to do things, but it is gone and not coming back.  Just want that new Touch ID as option besides Face ID and want it NOW,  this year,  Lol
    baconstang
  • Reply 3 of 8
    maltzmaltz Posts: 474member
    darkvader said:
    You know what would be even better?  A home button.

    The UI on iPhones without them is clunky at best.

    I used to feel that way, too... when I had a home button.  Now that I don't and am used to the swipe, I really don't miss the button at all.  I'm not going to say the new way is more usable, but it certainly isn't any less.  Face ID is quite a lot faster than Touch ID, and the extra screen real estate vs overall phone size is nice.  When I moved from my 6 Plus to an 11 Pro, I got a bigger screen but a smaller phone.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 8
    If it makes my fingerprints readable enough for Touch ID to actually work, I'm all for it.

    If you're not one of the 3% or so with effectively unreadable prints, you don't know how much of a benefit Face ID is. Getting TSA Pre-check took about 10 tries to get my prints to register.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 8
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,435member
    darkvader said:
    You know what would be even better?  A home button.

    The UI on iPhones without them is clunky at best.
    No way. The modern UX as introduced with the X is massively faster for multitasking and general use. I can't even fathom how anyone could feel the opposite.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 8
    maltz said:
    Face ID is quite a lot faster than Touch ID
    False. Touch ID has already unlocked my phone in less time than it takes to raise the phone up to my face.
  • Reply 7 of 8
    maltzmaltz Posts: 474member
    maltz said:
    Face ID is quite a lot faster than Touch ID
    False. Touch ID has already unlocked my phone in less time than it takes to raise the phone up to my face.
    Fair enough, but misses my point.  In practice, they may be fairly identical, but that still means that you really don't lose anything by losing the button.

    Well, once we stop having to cover our faces in public...  lol
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 8
    jasonfjjasonfj Posts: 568member
    If you’ve seen A Clockwork Orange, that drawing is hilarious. 
    watto_cobra
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